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Around the Farm: June 27, 2014

Around the Farm: June 27, 2014
Mitch Brown (Photo: IBI)
June 28, 2014
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Around the Farm takes a quick look at some of yesterday’s performances by Cleveland prospects throughout the system. The positions listed below are where the player was playing in yesterday’s game.

Mitch Brown (SP, Lake County): 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Wins and losses are probably the most irrelevant stat for a pitcher, especially in the minors, but this one had to feel good for Brown as he picked up his first win of the season in the process. In 16 starts he is now 1-6 with a 3.77 ERA and what has been most impressive is how he is now routinely pitching at least 5.0 innings and in just two of his last 10 starts has he allowed more than two runs (both were three earned run games). He is starting to command the zone better and has just 9 walks over his last five starts covering 30.1 innings.

Ryan Merritt (SP, Carolina): 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. Ho hum, another exceptional outing from Merritt who went at least 6.0 innings for the 10th time in 14 starts – his third straight outing pitching at least 7.0 innings and four of his last five outings he has gone that distance. The ability to pitch deep into games, command all three of his pitches very and his pitchability make him an intriguing second level prospect for the Indians. Is he a stud lefty prospect? No. But he has the makings of being a mid-to-backend starter and a guy who can have a long Major League career in such a role. It is about time the Indians challenge him and send him to Double-A Akron.

  • Tyler Holt (CF, Columbus): 1-for-4, R, HR, RBI, K. Holt now has six career homers 493 career minor league games and has equaled his career high for homers in a season with two. He is having a dandy of a season and should be in the mix for a backup outfield role in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.
  • Giovanny Urshela (3B, Columbus): 2-for-4, 3B. Urshela looks like he has found himself and has made the adjustment to Triple-A. He is now hitting .357 with a .971 OPS over his last 10 games and in 22 games this month is hitting a solid .293 with a .858 OPS.
  • Kyle Davies (SP, Columbus): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. Davies is just doing what he was signed to do which is eat innings in the upper levels of the farm system. The Indians really don’t have any starters at Akron pushing for a promotion, so in the meantime they should continue to go with the veterans like Davies, Travis Banwart and others.
  • Mark Lowe (RP, Columbus): 1.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R/ER, 1 BB, 1 K. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but why is Mark Lowe still in the organization? He was cut this spring and I believe another team before that, yet the Indians not only have him taking up innings in Triple-A but are wasting time with him at the big league level too. It’s time to cut him loose and bring up a pen arm from Akron.
  • Tyler Naquin (CF, Akron): 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, HBP. Naquin was hit by a pitch in the eighth inning and was taken out of the game, hopefully for precautionary reasons. His bat has cooled off since his 17-game hitting streak, so hopefully this multi-hit game gets him going.
  • Erik Gonzalez (SS, Akron): 0-for-4. This was the Double-A debut for Gonzalez – who is filling in at shortstop while Francisco Lindor is out the next 7-10 days. This is a good chance for Gonzo to get acclimated to the new level and city since he will likely be the starting shortstop at Akron next year.
  • Anthony Gallas (LF-RF, Akron): 1-for-4, R, HR, RBI. Gallas continues to impress in the early going since his promotion to Akron earlier this month. In 14 games at Akron he is now hitting .339 with 3 HR, 9 RBI and .964 OPS.
  • Cody Anderson (SP, Akron): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R/ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. A solid outing for Anderson as he had a quality start, but he was still tabbed with the loss and is now 2-7 on the season.  This is his third straight game of three or more walks and he has 12 in his last 13.2 innings pitched.
  • Enosil Tejeda (RP, Akron): 1.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 1 K. Tejeda is an example of a guy who should be getting an opportunity to pitch in Columbus rather than veteran depth arms like Mark Lowe. He’s impressed at every level he has been at and is having another good season with a 2.20 ERA and 7-36 walk to strikeout ratio in 32.2 innings.
  • LeVon Washington (LF, Carolina): 0-for-1, 2 BB, K. Washington was set to lead off in the top of the seventh inning but Jerrud Sabourin come on to pinch hit for him. No word on whether Washington is hurt how much time (if any) that he misses, but with his injury history you can only hold your breath and hope for the best.
  • Ollie Linton (CF, Carolina): 3-for-4, 2 RBI, BB, SB. After a near seven week stay at Akron, Linton is back in Carolina and hitting like he did before he left. He is now 4-for-8 in the two games at Carolina since being sent down.
  • Yandy Diaz (3B, Carolina): 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, K. Diaz has another good night at the plate reaching base three times in five plate appearances. He has now hit in 7-straight games and is hitting .350 with a .885 OPS in his last 10 games.
  • James Roberts (2B, Carolina): 2-for-4, 2B, K. Roberts piled up just his sixth extra base hit out of 61 hits this season. He’s hitting okay and getting on-base at a solid clip, but he now has a .036 isolated power which is not very good.
  • Logan Vick (RF, Lake County): 2-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, 2 K. Don’t look now, but Vick looks like he is starting to heat up. He has multi-hit games in three of his last four games and is 7-for-14 during that stretch.
  • Claudio Bautista (2B, Lake County): 2-for-5, 3B, 3 RBI. A nice night from Bautista who has struggled to find any consistency at the plate this season. He is a guy who has some decent upside as an offensive performer, but needs more discipline – something best shown through his 8-61 walk to strikeout ratio.
  • Paul Hendrix (DH, Lake County): 0-for-5, 5 K. Four strikeouts in a game are considered the Golden Sombrero, but with five in this one Hendrix earned the Platinum Sombrero. Yikes. This is one where as a player you can’t wait to get out there the next day to wipe the bad taste out of your mouth from such a poor outing.
  • Grant Fink (3B, Lake County): 2-for-4, 2 R, 3B, 2 RBI, BB, K. Fink has been a steady contributor in the Lake County lineup all season. In 71 games he is now hitting .271 with 6 HR, 35 RBI and has a ,745 OPS.
  • Ivan Castillo (SS, Lake County): 1-for-5, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2 K. Castillo hit just the second long ball of his career in this one. There is not a lot to get excited about with the bat, but the defense has some upside and is his strongest part of his game.
  • Carlos Melo (RP, Lake County): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 2 K. Again, like with Mark Lowe at Triple-A, why are the Indians bothering with a guy like Melo who has already been released by one organization? He’s taking away innings from another prospect and should not be in the organization. He now has 24 walks in 15.0 innings this year.
  • Greg Allen (RF, Mahoning Valley): 1-for-4, R, 2B. After hits in 5-of-9 at bats to start the season in his first two pro games, Allen has cooled off over the past few days going 5-for-18 at the plate.
  • Steve Patterson (2B, Mahoning Valley): 0-for-4, K. This was Patterson’s fourth game as a pro and the first time he went hitless. Of interest, he is 8-for-18 at the plate with 4 doubles.
  • Bradley Zimmer (CF, Mahoning Valley): 0-for-4, R, K. This was just Zimmer’s third game as a pro and he is no doubt working to get his feel for hitting back. At this point the sample sizes are still too small to get caught up on a guy one way or another.
  • Francisco Mejia (C, Mahoning Valley): 1-for-3, R, 2B, 2 RBI , BB, 2 K, E. Mejia may not be showing much power, but he is really putting  a ton of work into developing his catch and throw skills to go along with his leadership.
  • Luis DeJesus (SP, Mahoning Valley): 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R/ER, 3 BB, 2 K. DeJesus is back at the Valley even though he pitched there two years ago. That’s not a good sign. An even worse sign is 7 walks and 14 hits in 11.1 innings, which is almost a 2.00 WHIP.
  • Emmanuel Tapia (1B, AZL Indians): 1-for-3, R, RBI, BB, 2 K. It was a pretty quiet night for the AZL team as no one had a multi-hit night and they scored just four runs. That said, Tapia continued his strong start by reaching base twice in four attempts.
  • Li-Jen Chu (C, AZL Indians): 1-for-3, R, 2B, RBI, K. The 20-year old catcher from Taiwan has another good game ripping a double, scoring a run and driving in a run. The sample size is small, but he is 4-for-12 in the early going with an .845 OPS.  
  • Jodd Carter (LF, AZL Indians): 1-for-2, BB. I expect him to be a solid player in the long run, but he kind of reminds me of Aaron Siliga who was another high school outfielder who played left field at the rookie level for the Indians.
  • Shao-Ching Chiang (SP, AZL Indians): 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. Chiang is an arm who could move quickly to Low-A Lake County or short season Single-A Mahoning Valley. He was someone the Indians were very excited about two years ago but had some arm injuries, and he is off to a very good start.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

June 28, 2014 - 8:16 PM EDT
Ryan Merritt is slowly evolving into Josh Tomlin 2.0.
June 28, 2014 - 5:39 PM EDT
Not much to add...all of the comments today are spot on.
June 28, 2014 - 12:04 PM EDT
Kind of curious to see what you guys think, but right now... who do you like/favor more in the farm system... Frazier or Zimmer?
June 28, 2014 - 11:53 AM EDT
Mitch Brown has made one heck of a turnaround after a disastrous first six weeks of he season (not to mention last year's lost debut season). It will be interesting to see how he progresses through the system from here on out. Since we drafted him out of high school, my guess is he'll say in LC for the rest of this season but hopefully start in Carolina in 2015. From there, given his draft pedigree and high ceiling, the sky may be the limit. My guess is he doesn't see Akron until 2016 given his age and development curve. Still, if he continues to perform, he can fill a huge void in the Indians' system--high-end starting pitching prospects. With Kluber, Bauer, and (hopefully) Salazar locked up as the Tribe's front of the rotation starters for the next 4-5 years, the cub can afford to wait on high end arms like Brown the next couple years. They have plenty of guys like McAllister, House, Merritt, and Colon who can then fill out the 4 and 5 spots of the rotation in the meantime. And then there's always the hope Cody Anderson can regain his 2012-13 form and really make things interesting Akron and/or Columbus next year.
June 28, 2014 - 11:51 AM EDT
Yeah, those 6 were considered Top 100 guys in this draft. Hentges, Miniard and Lucas are high upside projects that could be in there in a couple of years.

The way I see it, in no order:

Aguilar, Moncrief, JRam, Urshela, Perez, A.Adams = 6 prospects with legit top 20 claim from Columbus (not counting Holt, CC Lee and Price, who might be in play too. CC Lee I considered graduated)

Akron: Anderson, Armstrong, Colon, Roberts, DVS, Wolters, Lindor, Wendle, Naquin, Myles, RRod = 11 Probably too generous here, with half of them being 20-30 specs

Carolina: Baker, Plutko, Merritt, Morimando, Y.Diaz, Gonzalez, LuRod, LWash = 8 (I think Lucas is deserving too, but I know I'm probably alone with that, so I left him off)

LC: M.Brown, Lugo, Aviles, Frazier, Haase = 5 (At first I had Kime and Mathews on there too, because of talent upside. NRod was another close cut)

That's 30, without the MV and AZL prospects. Bardy and Mejia should be in the Top 20 too
June 28, 2014 - 11:12 AM EDT

I think your right on with the system. This last draft added 5-6 guys (Zimmer, Papi, Sheffield, Allen, Bradley Hockin) I think could be worthy of top 20 status. I think it's reasonable that some of these other upside pickups (Linares, Diaz, Chang) force their way in too. Obviously no way 30-35 guys can rank in the top 20, and with the trade deadline approaching there is a good probability the system looks a bit different come August.

Btw, the July 2nd International FA period will be here next week should be a few signings from that. Last yr they went over slot a bit, as they brought in Linares, Diaz, Chang (signed in 13 counted against 12-13 pool), Castro and Soto. This yr they'll have about half as much money to spend throughout the slot allocation. The ChiCubs could be a possible trade partner for the Tribe if they look for more space, as they will be limited to signings of $250K with a top 5 pool to spend.
June 28, 2014 - 10:50 AM EDT
Gotta agree on Lowe, particularly with the crying need to promote deserving candidates in Akron.
Same has to be said for Melo. If they really love him that much, perhaps they can send him to work on his mechanics in AZ like they did to the then Fausto Carmona a few years back because he's certainly not doing it in LC and has not shown any improvement to date.

My guess is that with the flood of 2014 draftees coming on line, the FO will be forced to make cuts of players like Melo in the lower rungs of the system and perhaps higher as well. I'd expect that by the All Star break those changes will be in effect.
June 28, 2014 - 10:03 AM EDT
Ryan Merritt should be in Akron. Not sure what he has left to prove in Carolina. After he gets of the DL Aviles should be in Carolina. Melo, Beras and Lowe should be released. Pannone and Shane look like they are ready for MV. I guess that would happen once the Indians decide to add Hockin, Sheffield, Miniard and Hentges to AZL roster.

June 28, 2014 - 9:31 AM EDT
Urshela has to be the prospect who made the biggest jump this season. Here's a 22yo 3B, who has always been considered an above average to good defender having a breakout season with the bat. He significantly improved his walk rate and it looks like this change in approach at the plate has unleashed his power potential. If he keeps this up, he should be on anyone's top 10 list and he profiles perfectly for what the Indians need at 3B starting as soon as next season.

Like you Tony, I don't understand why the Indians waste their time and valuable IPs to Melo. A guy like Heller should be in Carolina in his place, allowing some "older" BP arms like Feyerabend, Merryweather or Stokes to get a shot at LC. The system is pretty deep with talent now, so this "blocking" makes little sense to me.

Speaking of, just going through the full season rosters, I counted around 32-34 prospects deserving of Top 20 status and I left out some very good performers for different reasons. With the high number of high upside and bonus specs horded at MV and AZL, this system is legitimaley 50 deep now. Deepest I can remember or am I being too optimistic?
June 28, 2014 - 1:31 AM EDT
excited about the Indians' farm system. Come next year it could be a really big weapon because the drafting has been superb recently.

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